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Weekend Primer: Week 12


Big 12

Iowa State

Series to watch: Oklahoma State at Texas

Oklahoma State still has a potential, albeit daunting, path to a conference title and needs to solidify its case for a top-eight seed in the NCAA tournament. Texas is still shoring up what presumably will be a chance to play at home in a regional, and Janae Jefferson is a very hot weekend (eight hits) away from a new program career record. There is a lot at stake in this three-game series.  It’s also compelling as nothing more complicated as a competitive test for two sets of players. A midweek loss against Wichita State was a rough way for Oklahoma State to begin a closing stretch that includes this series against Texas and next week’s Bedlam against Oklahoma. 

Player to watch: Lou Gilbert, OF, Baylor

Baylor slugger isn’t quite an oxymoron, but it’s fair to say the team from Waco is more familiar with pitching, defense and the short game. And yet there Gilbert is, tied for third in total bases in Big 12 games — keeping company with the likes of Jocelyn Alo, Tiare Jennings and Sami Williams. In 13 conference games, Gilbert is hitting .463 with six doubles, three home runs and a triple. That’s more than a third of Baylor’s total extra-base hits in conference play. With Texas still to come, Baylor needs to win this weekend’s home series against Kansas. 

Question to be answered: Will Iowa State get the wins it needs? 

We looked earlier this week at the legacy Williams leaves at Iowa State, which returned to a winning record in 2019 after a long hiatus. Tuesday’s win against Kansas City clinched another winning record, but hopes for an end to the program’s NCAA tournament drought involve improving on a 1-11 conference record. Unfortunately for them, the Cyclones will have to do that on the road — at Texas Tech this week and Kansas next week. 

Schedule and Broadcast Info (All times CT)

Iowa State (26-18, 1-11) at Texas Tech (18-23, 2-13)
Friday (ESPN+, 6 p.m.), Saturday (ESPN+, 4 p.m.), Sunday (ESPN+, 12 p.m.)

Kansas (22-20, 2-10) at Baylor (24-15, 5-6)
Friday (ESPN+, 6:30 p.m.), Saturday (ESPN+, 2 p.m.), Sunday (ESPN+, 12 p.m.)

No. 7 Oklahoma State (33-5, 11-1) at No. 14 Texas (35-6, 9-3)
Friday (LHN, 3 p.m.), Saturday (LHN, 12 p.m.), Sunday (LHN, 12 p.m.)

Big Ten


Series to watch: Illinois at Northwestern

Good luck finding a series this week in which it’s less clear exactly what is on the line. Both of these teams could be in the NCAA tournament field at the moment. One or both could on the bubble. Or both could be on the outside looking in. It’s difficult to know what the selection committee will do with the Big Ten’s abysmal RPI data. At the end of the day, as the coaches would probably stress, it’s difficult to hurt your cause by winning games. Illinois is 3-3 against league leaders Michigan and Minnesota, while Northwestern went just 1-7 in those games. 

Player to watch: Lou Allan, 1B, Michigan

Allan is one of several Wolverines who by dint of injuries, inconsistency or sheer bad luck struggled to find a groove in the past three or four seasons but is surging now. She hit her seventh home run of the season in last week’s series against Northwestern, one more home run than she hit in her first three seasons combined. With next week’s series against Minnesota looming, the test this week will be to stay focused at Penn State — a series in which Michigan is working on a 32-game winning streak. 

Question to be answered: Who is the best pitcher outside the top four? 

There isn’t a correct answer here, but with Northwestern’s Danielle Williams squaring off against Illinois’ Sydney Sickels, Michigan’s Meghan Beaubien and Alex Storako leading the nation in ERA and Minnesota’s Amber Fiser and Autumn Pease getting an unexpected week off because of COVID issues at Wisconsin, it leaves open the question of the best of the rest. Indiana’s Emily Goodin has a case despite a 10-11 record — she’s certainly the most indispensable after throwing more than 130 innings. But Ohio State’s Payton Buresch, Michigan State’s Ashley Miller, Iowa’s Lauren Shaw and Purdue’s Savanah Henley all take the field this weekend with opportunities to make their case. 

Schedule and Broadcast Info (All times ET)

Illinois (20-12) at Northwestern (22-10)

Friday (BTN+, 4 p.m.), Saturday (DH, BTN+, 1/3:30 p.m.), Sunday (BTN, 2:30 p.m.)

Iowa (16-16) at Rutgers (7-25)

Friday (BTN+, 3 p.m.), Saturday (DH, BTN+, 1/3:30 p.m.), Sunday (BTN+, 11:30 a.m.)

Maryland (14-18) at Nebraska (16-16)

Friday (DH, BTN+, 4/6:30 p.m.), Saturday (BTN+, 4 p.m.), Sunday (BTN+, 12 p.m.)

No. 21 Michigan (24-5) at Penn State (5-22)

Friday (BTN+, 5 p.m.), Saturday (DH, BTN+, 1 /3:30 p.m.), Sunday (BTN+, 12 p.m.)

Michigan State (9-16) at Indiana (16-16)

Friday (BTN+, 4 p.m.), Saturday (DH, BTN+, 12/2:30 p.m.), Sunday (BTN+, 12 p.m.)

Ohio State (17-14) at Purdue (10-22)

Friday (BTN+, 4 p.m.), Saturday (BTN+, 1/3:30 p.m. ), Sunday (BTN+, 1 p.m.)

No. 19 Minnesota at Wisconsin, postponed (COVID)

Southeastern Conference

Series to Watch: No. 8 Arkansas (38-7, 17-4) at No. 11 LSU (28-15, 10-8)


Arkansas enters its final series of the regular-season on the precipice of history. The Razorbacks have a 1.5-game lead over Florida for first place in the SEC standings. Arkansas has never won an SEC regular-season or tournament title in program history. Tiger Park will be even more hostile than usual this season for the Hogs, with LSU having increased its stadium capacity to 100 percent attendance with no mask requirements for fans. LSU’s pitching staff needs to be at its best facing the powerful Arkansas lineup, led by home run producers Braxton Burnside, Danielle Gibson and crew. Arkansas lost two of three games to Missouri last weekend for its second SEC series loss (Alabama was the other). LSU has won every SEC series this season aside from being swept by Florida.

Player to Watch: Lexi Kilfoyl, Alabama

The sophomore pitcher/utility returned to the lineup from injuries last weekend in Alabama’s non-conference sweep of Louisiana. Kilfoyl hit her first career home run in her first at-bat, but hasn’t pitched since April 10th. The Tide needs her in the circle down the stretch to provide more support for Montana Fouts.

Question to be answered: Can Florida run the table?

The Gators are still very much in the hunt for the SEC regular-season title with six games remaining on their schedule. They are tied in the loss column with Arkansas, which has only three games left. Florida can at least tie for the title if they sweep the remaining games, or win it outright depending on how Arkansas does against LSU this weekend. The Gators have won five of the last seven SEC regular-season crowns.

Schedule and Broadcast Info:

  • No. 4 Alabama at Georgia

Where: Jack Turner Stadium (Athena, Ga.)

When: Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 1 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m.

Broadcast: SEC Network+; ESPN2

  • No. 18 Tennessee at Auburn

Where: Jane B. Moore Field (Auburn, Ala.)

When: Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 5 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m.

Broadcast: SEC Network+

  • Mississippi State at South Carolina

Where: Carolina Softball Stadium (Columbia, S.C.)

When: Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 3 p.m.; Sunday  1 p.m.

Broadcast: SEC Network+

  • No. 17 Kentucky at Texas A&M

Where: Davis Diamond (College Station, Texas)

When: Friday 7 p.m.; Saturday 3 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.

Broadcast: SEC Network+

  • No. 3 Florida at No. 12 Missouri 

Where: Mizzou Softball Stadium (Columbia, Mo.)

When: Friday 7 p.m.; Saturday 5 p.m.; Sunday Noon

Broadcast: SEC Network+

  • No. 8 Arkansas at No. 11 LSU

Where: Tiger Stadium (Baton Rouge, La.)

When: Saturday 7 p.m.; Sunday 6 p.m.; Monday 7 p.m.

Broadcast: ESPNU; SEC Network

Atlantic Coast Conference

Series to watch: NC State at No. 6 Florida State (33-6-1, 21-3-1)

Florida State
NC State

If Florida State wants to retain its ACC crown, the Seminoles need to finish strong. They are in second place in the standings entering the weekend, with league leader and newcomer Clemson (37-4, 26-4) off this weekend. Last weekend, the Seminoles got another superb series from their pitching staff – led by Kathryn Sandercock and Caylan Arnold – but the run support was inconsistent from game to game. NC State leads the ACC with 1.59 home runs per game (65 home runs through 41 games). Randi Farricker has an ACC-leading 15 home runs and .880 slugging percentage. The Wolfpack are the only team in the country to have 60 or more home runs and stolen bases. Friday’s game is Florida State’s “Player’s Weekend” game with the Seminoles wearing jerseys with nicknames that have significance to each player on her back.

Player to watch: Susannah Anderson, Boston College

The junior righthander has been the workhorse of the BC staff. Anderson has thrown 143 of the 251.1 total innings for the Eagles. She is 7-16 with a 2.40 ERA, 93 strikeouts and 47 walks. The volume is nothing new for Anderson. As a freshman in 2019, she threw a team-high 174 innings.

Question to be answered: Can Virginia Tech get back on track?

The Hokies have lost five straight games, including three with Keely Rochard in the circle. After being swept by Notre Dame last weekend, Virginia Tech dropped a midweek game against Liberty on a ninth-inning walk-off home run. The Hokies need to stem the slide this weekend against Syracuse and turn things around as the postseason approaches.

Schedule and Broadcast Info:

  • No. 20 Virginia Tech at Syracuse 

Where: Skytop Softball Stadium (Syracuse, NY)

When: Friday 4 p.m.; Saturday 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Sunday Noon

Broadcast: ACC Network Extra

  • Virginia at Georgia Tech

Where: Shirley Clements Mewborn Field (Atlanta)

When: Friday 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.; Saturday 2 p.m.; Sunday Noon

Broadcast: ACC Network Extra

  • Louisville at Boston College

Where: Boston College Softball Field (Brighton, Mass.)

When: Friday 5 p.m.; Saturday Noon and 5 p.m.; Sunday 2 p.m.

Broadcast: ACC Network; ACC Network Extra 

  • NC State at No. 6 Florida State 

Where: JoAnn Graf Field (Tallahassee, Fla.)

When: Friday 6 p.m.; Saturday 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.; Sunday Noon

Broadcast: ACC Network Extra

Pac-12 Conference

Series to Watch: Oregon at Arizona State

Arizona State

Another top 25 matchup as the Ducks head back to Tempe for the second time this season. Earlier in the year, Oregon found good fortune at Farrington Stadium as it beat then No. 1-ranked UCLA in the desert. The Ducks enter the weekend after going 2-2 at home against an unranked, yet talented, Stanford squad. Oregon is looking to find some consistency heading into to postseason play as they have struggled to clutch up in some key situations over the past couple of weeks. Arizona State is simply happy to be back on the field after its weekend series was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols in the Cal program. ASU will again rely on both Allison Royalty and Lindsay Lopez in an effort to pull closer to second place in the Pac-12 standings. What is really at stake? Garnering a national seed from the selection committee, which will be choosing the top 16 teams in the nation in just a few short weeks. This series is pivotal for the wins vs. T25 stats, which the committee has heavily weighted in the past.

Players to watch: Kindra Hackbarth, CF, Arizona State and Maddi Hackbarth, C, Arizona State

The pair of seniors will play their last conference home game at Club Farrington this weekend and will be honored during senior day. Maddie, the current Pac-12 leader in RBIs (51) and home runs (18), and Kindra, who is hitting .370 and leads the team in stolen bases (16), have had a major impact on the Sun Devil program. The duo transferred from Fresno State after their freshman year and have grown significantly under Trisha Ford’s coaching wings.

Question to be answered: Will it come down to the last weekend in the Pac?

It is still mathematically possible for five teams to win the Pac-12 title. The Bruins have just two conference losses, Washington is second in the rankings with four losses. The Bruins face Utah this weekend and need to stay focused as they don’t have an easy ride at the end of conference play with both Stanford and Arizona to close out the season.

No. 13 Oregon v. No. 9 Arizona State
Pac-12 Networks (Friday 5 PM PT, Saturday 4 PM & 6:30 PT, Sunday 12 PM PT)

No. 2 UCLA v. Utah
Utah Livestream (Friday 4 PM PT, Saturday 1 PM & 3:30 PM PT, Sunday 11 AM PT)

Oregon State v. Stanford
Stanford Livestream (Friday 6 PM PT, Saturday 1PM & 3:30PM PT, Sunday 12 PM PT)

California at No. 10 Arizona (single game Saturday & Sunday only)
Arizona Livestream (Saturday 6PM, Sunday 12 PM PT)

Others to Watch …

The Bulldogs enter the weekend on a 13-game winning streak, with most of the wins under interim head coach, Jodie Cox. Fresno State (30-7) sits at the top of the Mountain West Standings with a 13-1 conference record just ahead of UNLV (23-11) with a 14-3. Player to Watch: Haley Dolcini, P, Fresno State Dolcini leads the nation with twelve shutouts and cashed in her sixth Mountain West Pitcher of the week honors last week. The senior righthander is 17-3 with a .87 ERA/,73 WHIP and has struck out 201 batters in 129.1 innings of work. Dolcini is a Top 25 finalist for Player of the Year and certaintly a player to keep an eye on as we head into the postseason. J


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